"Villa Dieu Seul Sait"

Residence for artists, writers and researchers,
studio and seminar facilities in Benin, Western Africa


Recently constructed
studion wing

cool veranda, ideal
for work or

long discussions
without starving..

The gardens are subdivided
by red earth walls,

accommodation ranging from rooms with shared facilities to private apartments with
kitchen and bathroom

Quite location in a coconut grove, 300m from the beach, no tourism, traditional fishing,
mangrove lagoon in the back, 40min from international airport Cotonou, 20 from the
edge of town with shopping facilities pharmacies, supermarkets, Internet cafes.

architecture: in allusion to traditional Benin buildings, we used thatched roof, and red mud
walls with concrete core,
modern facilities, generator electricity in the evenings and upon special request, own water
wells and towers, exclusively used by the residents.
garden with several shady rest areas, tropical fruit trees, blossoms all year.

an independent

with its own kitchen
and bathroom

bedroom with creative
zone and reserved garden

a dug out fishing boat
on Togbin Beach

Founded in 1999 and run by artist Georges Adéagbo and curator Stephan Kohler
Extension with further studios, accommodation and exhibition spaces projected. Detailed description
of the project at the end of this page.

Food service available on request. locally harvested papaya, bananas and coconut at
residents’ disposal. Catch of the day from the beach.

taxis with a driver can be hired for 3 Euros an hour for errands in the
Cotonou areas. Long distance rides to be negotiated.

December to March, dry season, around 30 C day and night, the summer
months can be cooler with occasional rain showers,
constant ocean breeze, renders a natural air conditioning

video walk available on CD as mpeg file and images of interiours can be attached to e-mails

apartment: 30 Euro, room 18 Euro per day
long term stay rates available

stepler@attglobal.net and ledestin@firstnet1.com please send always a copy to the second address
fax: +49-69-791 226 482
mobile 94 89 75 +229 c.code Benin

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In general, artists gather in the metropoleis of Europe, the US and other wealthy countries. Probably they like to stay close to their public, collectors, critics and curators who write about them or might invite them for further projects. Without doubt, the distribution of occasions for cultural encounters on the globe is not balanced yet. On the other hand, programs, facilities and audiences are rare in most countries considered as under developed.

However, the need for a continuously operating art forum also in Africa seems obvious, even at intimate
scale and without commercial prospects. Georges Adéagbo and Stephan Kohler used their personal assets to acquire real estate and plant the first seed on the coast of Benin. (ex- Dahomey) The name ‘Villa Dieu Seul Sait’ does not refer to any institutionalized form of religion, but was chosen by Georges Adéagbo as synonym for the notion ‘Trust your destiny’. Situated in a coconut grove between the beach and lagoon of Togbin village, 5km west of Benin’s largest city Cotonou, the initial cell, a 15m diameter thatched roofed round house was completed summer 2000, a guesthouse in the park in 2001 and a large atelier with two guestrooms, a studio and 33m long terrace for meetings in spring 2002.


The concept for this cradle of encounters grows naturally out of Georges Adéagbo’s œuvre. With his
all-embracing analytical installations this senior Benin artist catalyzes understanding and empathy between races and cultures. By intertwining elements from his native country with those found in the guest location , Georges reveals obstacles to harmony; While common denominators are hidden under a varnish of geographical and political distinctions, complementary action occurs only when partners recognize and esteem their particular predisposition. Stephan Kohler, of German origin and based in Japan since 1987, coordinates projects both for established institutions and at the same time searches continuously off trodden tracks for situations, considered as unsuitable by many, which harbor a potential for having innovative and needed processes hatch. All of his activities are summarized as ‘jointadventures’.

In the near future, further studios to host visiting artists and an exhibition space will form a planetary
constellation around this first center of gravity. One area will be designated to show permanent installations by Georges Adéagbo on un- recognized aspects of Benin’s history and the neighboring countries, while other spaces are prepared to view works created by artists during their stay.

“Villa Dieu seul sait” intends to launch a general search for authenticity by instigating the reassessment of existing, sometimes imposed categories, such as ‘African Contemporary Art’ and inviting to confront
Europeans’ interpretations of African traditional sculpture, some of which contributed a critical momentum to the leap towards abstraction already about one hundred years ago, with the originals at their source. It may be exciting to observe the see-saw of visual loans that led occidentals to new form, while African talents begin to assume new roles such as by becoming ‘artist’. Only when the clusters of clichés are unraveled, communication and ideas flow freely and can realign in natural ways.

Not necessarily an endeavor rooted in ‘francophony’, Villa Dieu seul sait plans to co-operate and co-vision with individuals and institutions of any country freely from to facilitate encounters, exhibitions and publications. While the villa can offer spaces in pristine nature and orientation, participants will need to cooperate solicit funding for their travel, per diem and materials necessary for their respective projects.

The shore between Cotonou and Ouidah was the last one of the African continent millions of slaves saw
when being ‘exported’ over the centuries, a fact which is commemorated by the gate of no return on the
beach. In return, Benin particularly qualifies as a platform for an inter-cultural forum, because of its rich
traditions and history as well as present political stability. Due to abundant foreign aid, combined with the citizens’ serious efforts, the infrastructure and medical care are continuously improving. Other than his giant neighbor Nigeria of 150 million, Benin is a sympathetic ‘David’ of six million inhabitants and functions safely and relatively uncomplicated. The airport of Cotonou links Benin to Paris daily and African destinations with reasonable frequency.

News about the progress of ‘Villa Dieu seul sait’ and the work of Georges Adéagbo will be posted on this website.
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© 1999-2003 Joint Adventures Art Projects